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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4 February 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


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News continues below...


DEFENDER aad noorland 1 (3)

Two interesting and smart looking ‘crew’ boats (?) ‘appeared’ in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront the other day, apparently the products of a local builder who we have not yet managed to identify. Perhaps one of our readers can assist us here? The two boats share the same name and are registered in Bassaterre, the capital of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. Pictures are by the ever alert Aad Noorland


DEFENDER aad noorland 2 (3)

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Grindrod diesel-electric locomotives are to be found in a number of places around South Africa and the sub-continent

Grindrod Limited, the South African freight and logistics service provider is partnering with Northwest Rail Company Ltd (NWR) to build, operate and maintain a new 590km cape gauge (1067mm) railway from Chingola in the heart of the old Zambian copperbelt, to the Angolan border.

This new railway will link with the Benguela Railway in Angola which has been returned to service after many years following the Angolan civil war. The Chinese builders of that railway recently reached the DRC border at Luau but a spur from the town of Luena to the Zambian border still needs to be built.

Exclusive rights were granted to NWR, a Zambian company, by the Government of Zambia in July 2006. The agreement signed this week will enable Grindrod Ltd, through its wholly-owned Mauritius- registered subsidiary Grindrod Mauritius, and NWR to conclude the bankable feasibility study which is currently underway.

The railway is to be built in two phases – Phase I extending from Chingola to the Kansanshi, Lumwana and Kalumbila mines (290km of track), and Phase II to connect with the Benguela line on the Zambian-Angola border near Jimbe.

Phase I is intended to service existing ore and finished copper traffic, and Phase II is intended to open up a direct corridor to Lobito which would allow landlocked Zambia to import oil directly from Angola, and to stimulate further mining activity in the Western Copperbelt region.

The estimated capital cost of Phase 1 is US$489 million while Phase 2 of the NWR project is estimated to cost US$500 million.

KPMG’s Infrastructure and Major Projects team have successfully developed the project with NWR over the last twelve months and facilitated the closure of the deal.

Subject to the conclusion of the Phase 1 bankability feasibility study, construction is expected to commence during 2014. “I have been developing this project for a number of years and the synergies with Grindrod’s Rail businesses, makes Grindrod an ideal partner in the joint venture and means we will be able to bring this project to being in the shortest possible time”, said Enoch Kavindele, the founder/owner of NWR and a former vice-president of Zambia.

Grindrod’s Rail division operates railways and builds, refurbishes and maintains locomotives and wagons, provides rail signalling systems and constructs and maintains track infrastructure.

“We have spent the last few years developing our rail capabilities and growing our capacity to participate in the growth in the Africa rail sector. It has meant we are perfectly placed to take up opportunities like this on the African continent,” said James Holley, Grindrod Rail’s divisional chief executive.

According to Dave Rennie, CEO Grindrod Freight Services –Ports & Rail, the investment will enable Grindrod to extract synergies from its existing investments in the North South rail corridor and its port operations in Maputo, Richards Bay and Durban.

“We also see great potential in creating an Atlantic gateway to Central Africa through Lobito and look forward to playing our part in making this a reality with the development of Phase II,” he added.

The Copperbelt straddles the border of Northern Zambia and the Southern DRC and is amongst the richest under-developed geological regions in Africa. Current production of copper in this area accounts for around 8% of the world’s production, and BMI International forecasts sustained growth in the Zambian copper industry at 5% per annum over the next decade.

“We like the economic fundamentals of the copper market. We have previously been highly focused on the coal and iron ore markets so this gives us a good opportunity to diversify our bulk commodity mix,” said Rennie.

Existing copper mines are located in the Eastern Copperbelt and are serviced by smelters located near to Chingola (Zambia) and Lubumbashi (DRC). New mine developments have started, and more are planned, in the central and western Copperbelt area of Zambia where ore has to be transported up to 300kms for processing. Road infrastructure is poor, and the cost of road transport is becoming prohibitive. An alternative rail transport solution will be both more economic for the North Western province of Zambia and much less damaging to the local environment.

“Grindrod has proven itself to be a good custodian of state assets elsewhere in Africa and I believe that as Zambians, we can be pleased to have them as our partners in this important project which will create thousands of jobs in the country in accordance with government policy,” said Kavindele

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Zambia and the copperbelt, with approx route of new railway to Angola marked in thin red line

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Durban Container Terminal, with Pier 1 on the left and Pier 2 on the right. Connecting them are berths 108 and 109 which are about to be taken out of service for maintenance

Southern Africa’s biggest and busiest container terminal, the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 will over the next four months undergo protection of seabed erosion and the quay wall during which two berths, nos. 108 and 109 will be taken out of service.

During this period, calling vessels will be diverted to DCT Pier 1, Maydon Wharf and Durban Ro-Ro while some transshipments will be handled at the Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT) in the Eastern Cape Region.

According to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) Chief Executive Karl Socikwa, to keep DCT at an acceptable operational level it is necessary for the planned maintenance and safety critical works to take place across the collapsing stacking area and weakening quayside.

“This will also minimise the risks posed to operating landside equipment and our employees,” Socikwa said. He added that all efforts continued to be aimed at improvement in operational efficiencies and to ensure the safety of customer cargo.

The scour protection project is part of a broader rehabilitation programme at the 108 and 109 berths inclusive of the repairing of stacks against wear and tear, restoration of roadways and the refurbishment of four cranes.

Commissioned in 2002 and 2007 respectively, the cranes will undergo structural corrosion protection, replacement of motors, gearboxes and electrical components including upgrading the PLC systems during the four month period of berth maintenance. The programme will be carried out in four phases commencing in February. Phase 1 will be concluded in June, after which vessels of suitable sizes will be accommodated.

Phase 2 and 3 will isolate certain portions of the stacking area behind berth 108. Smaller vessels will continue to be diverted to nearby terminals until October. Phase 4 will see minimum impact to berths 108 and 109 when berth 202 bays undergo refurbishment.

“The implementation plan was formulated with the aim of minimising congestion,” said Zeph Ndlovu, TPT’s general manager KZN Operations. “Using TPT operated terminals nearby will be the least disruptive for our customers, whom we have kept informed from inception.” He added that an estimated 250,000 TEUs will be diverted to the other terminals and all preparation measures have been activated.

TPT says it has in the recent past invested in its terminals to capacitate their flexibility in creating capacity ahead of demand as prescribed by the Transnet’s market demand strategy, unveiled in 2012. This has seen an equipment boost in all terminals including Pier 1, Maydon Warf and Durban Ro-Ro and an up-skilling of employees for versatility in TPT operations across all sectors namely containers, bulk, break-bulk and automotive.

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Class 19E single cab dual voltage electric locomotives that have been introduced on the Ermelo-Richards Bay coal line. Being dual voltage they are able to operate on the 3 kV DC and 25 kV AC sections of the railway, thus saving considerable time instead of changing locomotives. Built locally at the UCW workshops in Nigel, in partnership with Toshiba, 110 of the modern locomotives have been placed in service. Picture by Eugene Armer / Wiki Commons

Increasing the rail network will not only relieve the country’s roads but will be good for the economy too, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba says.

“Six thousand, four hundred and five kilometres of rail will have been replaced [on] the general freight, coal and ore lines, increasing the rail network by 149.7 million tonnes,” he said at the SABC-New Age breakfast briefing on infrastructure on Monday.

“Existing logistics corridors will be expanded and new ones will be established, and 1,317 new locomotives and 25,000 new wagons will be procured (over the next five years),” he said.

The move will improve the country’s capacity to industrialise the economy as well as the ability to export manufactured goods.

“We will be able to increase our exports of coal by over 50%. Our ability to move general freight on rail will have more than doubled in capacity and Transnet’s container handling capacity will increase by 75%. The dramatic increase in our rail infrastructure will have a positive impact on our roads and will reduce the burden carried by many roads,” Gigaba said.

This will improve the efficiency and safety of roads and has positive spin-offs for the economy. source – SAnews.gov.za

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Walvis Bay container terminal

Limited operations at the Walvis Bay Container Terminal are continuing with two out of six gangs operating what could be called a skeleton service – which given the proximity to the famous Skeleton Coast might not be so inappropriate!

Today’s update (Tuesday) shows a reduction from three gangs on Sunday and part of Monday. Namport says it is giving priority towards Namibian cargo where possible and it is expected that vessel traffic will increase in the coming days leading to berthing delays of up to 3 days. “All affected parties have been informed accordingly.”

On Sunday Namport advised that the principle applied remains 1 operational berth, 1 vessel and all resources maximised towards the working of that vessel.

The port authority said then that as it had managed to clear the urgent vessels in port, it would be able to attend to the evacuation of urgent cargo by trucks. This was to be done on a booking type system whereby operators would be allocated a window in which to move their cargo.

This morning the port authority said the container terminal gates were receiving trucks for collection and discharging and four reach stackers were dedicated for this purpose. “The opening times may be extended but this will be communicated. The releasing of containers after hours can be considered upon request.

“The status quo remains with regards to the industrial action. We would like to advise customers that there is no indication of the current action being resolved in the immediate future and we request you to make alternative arrangements where possible.”


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Trade barriers, non-tariff based trade impediments and other vested interests are threatening to destabilise the delicate economic balance in South Africa as well as derail any prospects for regional economic recovery.

This will be a major topic of debate at the upcoming Cool Logistics Africa conference in Cape Town from 4-6 March, with a growing list of perishable importers and exporters ready to 'stand up and be counted' on the rising threats to their businesses.

Georg Southey, General Manager at Merlog Foods Pty Ltd, is the latest perishables player to join the debate. Established in 1994, today Merlog Foods is one of the largest food distributors and wholesalers in South Africa and neighbouring countries. Merlog's main focus is on frozen meat and chicken, along with a range of frozen vegetables, processed meats, French fries and other potato products.

Some of these products are currently being imported, especially poultry, which has become a serious 'bone of contention' between indigenous South African producers and the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of South Africa. At Cool Logistics Africa, Mr Southey will make the case for liberalising poultry imports into South Africa.

Other speakers also set to discuss the impact of trade barriers will include Deon Joubert, General Manager Fruit Logistics at Capespan, who has just been appointed to head up the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGSA) efforts in Brussels to prevent the current EU ban on South African citrus from being extended into the next season. European producers claim that citrus black spot (CBS) could infect European production.

Meanwhile, ocean carriers are becoming aware that it may also be in their interest to ensure that trade disputes are being diffused or resolved in order to bring on the much needed general economic recovery.

“South Africa exports 40 percent of its citrus to Europe,” says Iain McIntosh, General Manager Sales, at Mitsui OSK, noting that if South African citrus were banned this would create a big hole both for the South African economy and for European fruit consumption.

“Where would the Europeans source citrus from during the summer?” he asks.

McIntosh will also give a presentation on protectionism, trade intervention and shipping at the 3rd annual pan-African conference, where he will be joined by representatives from other container and specialised reefer shipping lines including CMA-CGM, Safmarine, Star Reefers and more.

“Given the social dimension of employment offered by the agricultural sector in Africa as a whole, trade between African countries, including perishables, should be given more priority in the future,” argues Alex von Stempel, Managing Director Cool Logistics Resources. “It is high time that Africa embraces the prospects of Intra-African perishable trades.” This will be another major talking point at the 2014 conference.

This year's Cool Logistics Africa conference will break new ground to include sessions dedicated to overland road and rail transport, airfreight, port infrastructure and the relationship between agriculture and logistics, with involvement from companies such as Durabilis, Arla Foods and Dole South Africa.

Cool Logistics Africa returns to Cape Town for the 3rd year in 2014 under the headline theme ‘Integrating global and regional perishable supply chains.’ The event includes a 2-day business conference and 1-day practical workshop on technical and operations issues.

The full programme and list of participating speakers and delegate companies can be viewed via our EVENTS DIARY - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


Iron Trader, which has been detained in Port Harcourt. Picture by Joao Viana / Marinetraffic

The Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) has seized a 6m container off a ship, the IRON TRADER (2,623-dwt, built 1981) in Port Harcourt harbour.

The vessel had arrived earlier from Bulgarian and Black Sea ports via Gibraltar and Algeciras. The ship is owned by a Turkish company based in Istanbul and is registered in Panama. The captain of the ship was placed under arrest along with six of his crew. They have been undergoing interrogation at the SSS office in the port city.

The ammunition was hidden in boxes placed within the container. It is not known whether other goods were also in the container, nor has a detailed list of the ammunition been released.

Rivers State in which Port Harcourt falls faces elections next year and already there is evidence of violence and intolerance between the respective parties. The discovery of arms being smuggled into the region raises fears that this was intended for use to fuel any disputes during the election.

On the other hand, Nigeria is facing ongoing strife in the north of the country and the smuggling of weapons and arms to this area is also a possibility.


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Members of the AU at the 2014 Summit, which ended last week. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairman of the AU is in the long dress in the centre front

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit which ended last Friday, 31 January at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has adopted the 2050 Africa Integrated maritime (AIM) Strategy plan.

The decade 2015-2025 has been declared the Decade of African Seas and Oceans, while 25 July will be marked each year as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.

During the visit to Africa by the Japanese prime minister last year, head of the AU Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated, “Africa, in addition to land resources, also has vast oceanic resources, and therefore is exploring more sustainable and inclusive ways of expanding and protecting its Blue economy, yet another area where we can share experience with Japan.”

Her statement revealed the extent to which the AU Commission and Africans in general have decided to protect their maritime domain and promote the continent’s Blue Economy, a dimension that holds a prominent place in the AU agenda. Such a vision has been well-articulated in the AU 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM-Strategy).

This is an African comprehensive, integrative, innovative and multi-layered common approach developed by Africans, with Africans, and for Africans on the basis that Africa’s socio-economic development depends highly on her maritime industry.

Last week’s assembly invited regional economic communities and regional mechanisms to develop and adopt a regional strategy against piracy, armed robbery and other illegal activities committed at sea, consistent with the 2050 AIM Strategy.

According to Dr Christian Bueger, lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University and writer for piracy-studies.org, these developments indicate the emergence of African maritime security communities. The 2050 AIM Strategy is one of the first true African efforts to reclaim the continent’s maritime security agenda and to move it beyond the international counter-piracy agenda, he says.

In developing the AIM Strategy, the AU recognised that Africa’s maritime domain has vast potential for wealth creation and that AU Member States have common maritime challenges, opportunities and significant responsibilities for generating the desirable political will for implementing the strategy.

Africa’s inland waters, oceans and seas are under pressure, says the AU. Over the years, traditional maritime activities, such as shipping or fisheries have intensified, while new ones, such as aquaculture or offshore renewable energy, emerged. However, the rise in intensity of activities at sea is taking place against the backdrop of insecurity, various forms of illegal trafficking, degradation of the marine environment, falling biodiversity and aggravated effects of climate change.

In the past decades direct aggregate losses of revenue from illegal activities in Africa’s maritime domain amount to hundreds of billions US dollars and many lives lost.

The development agenda of the AU promotes, among other things, human capital development and improved standard of living. It is inclusive and based on a human-centred approach to development where all social groups are engaged. The agenda sees an Africa using its own resources to take its rightful place in a multi-polar, inter-reliant and more equitable world.

In the maritime domain of Africa, the wide variety of related activities are inter-related to some extent, and all have a potential impact on the prosperity derivative through their contributions to social, economic and political stability, and safety and security. Notably, therefore, the approach to regulation and management of maritime issues and resources cannot be confined to a few select sectors or industries. source – AU and MarEx


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East London harbour

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to Stack dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.


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The container ship SEADREAM (62,340-dwt, built November 2013) in Cape Town harbour recently. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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Another visitor to the Cape was the Saga Cruises’ ship, SAGA PEARL II, captured on film from the lawns of the port control tower and offices. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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